10 Things I Learned From Being a Team Player

In ninth grade I broke my dad’s heart when I decided to quit running track to join the JV pompon team. For those of you who aren’t from the Midwest, Pompon is a combination of cheer and dance with a focus of sharp movements and Rockettes style high kicks. 

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2010- Tenth grade Mid American Pompon summer camp with my staff sister, and now friend, Leah

As high school went on, I loved performing and competing and knew that I wanted to continue my journey with pom beyond high school. When I decided to go to MSU, I tried out for the pompon team and the rest is history.

I spent my summers working for Mid American Pompon summer camps as a counselor and instructor, better known as a “staff sister”. During the school year I practiced and competed with MSU pom.

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2016- Fourth years at camp

For those four years, pom was a huge part of my life. I learned so much about myself, made more memories than I can count and built friendships that will last me a lifetime.

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2013- Freshman year on MSU

Yesterday the Spartans took home the title of 2017 Collegiate High Kick Champions. I am so proud to be an alum of the MSU Pompon program and it got me thinking about just how much being a team member molded me as a person.

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2016- My senior year on MSU

Here are the top ten things being a team player taught me:

1. Lead by example

Actions speak louder than words. If you want people to follow, start leading.

2. Find your tribe and love them hard

Having a group of people that make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself can get you through anything. Lean on the ones you trust and always be there when they need you, too.

3. Mind over matter

You are so much stronger than you know – both mentally and physically. Your body will do just about anything your mind tells it to. When I didn’t want to go to practice, I always felt better after it was over. Now the same goes for the gym. Tell yourself you can and get it done.

4. You can learn from everyone

Older, younger or new to the game. Any industry, any gym, any work setting. Listen to those around you and you will learn something new every single day.

5. Stronger together than apart

Embracing the team mentality allows for growth and productivity. Hearing new perspectives makes you smarter. Working together is invaluable.

6. Balance is everything

Spending so many hours juggling class, internships and practice made me pretty good at time management. I’m thankful to know when and how to take time for myself.

7. Accountability

When you are working toward a common goal, you have to be able to depend on your teammates. Following through and taking responsibility for your actions builds trust and respect.

8. Dependability

This goes hand in hand with accountability, but I think it all comes down to knowing how your actions affect others. Say what you mean and mean what you say, and always, always be honest.

9. Raise your hand

Sometimes you have to volunteer to do the thing nobody else wants to. It’s just the way it is and people appreciate it.

10. Attitude is everything

Every practice, and now that I’m adulting, every morning, I make the decision to have a positive attitude. Your attitude is contagious, so if you want others to be happy, you have to start with yourself.

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2017- Collegiate Championships

What other skills did you learn from playing a sport? I would love to hear them in the comments. Let’s focus on being good teammates in all aspects of our lives this week.

Love, Leigh

Smile at Yourself

Like many women, I am often told to smile more by men on the street. Every time this happens, it leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling. I get a pit in my stomach that sticks with me for the whole day.

I think the reason why it feels so intrusive when a stranger demands that you smile is because a genuine smile is one of the most valuable things you can give to someone. The reflection of joy that you present when you smile is special and should never be faked or forced.

A stranger demanding you to smile did nothing to warrant a joyful display of appreciation…but do you know who did? Do you know who deserves recognition for bringing you happiness? You. 

When was the last time that you smiled at yourself? Not to check your teeth for lipstick, but to see the real-time happiness in your own face?

As you know by now, I exercise at The Barre Code. Each studio has mirrored walls that allow you to check your form while you work out. Often times you are right up at the barre staring at your reflection in the mirror.

Sometimes during class I meet my own eyes in the mirror and am surprised by the intensity and fire I see in myself. What is more surprising, however, is how little we smile at ourselves.

It always seemed weird to me when the instructor would say, “look at the beautiful, strong woman staring back at you in the mirror and smile at her, she worked so hard for the last 50 minutes.”

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A smile represents so much more than a happy facial expression. A smile shows gratitude and appreciation. Smiling at yourself is just another way to show self-love and be grateful for giving yourself time to become mentally and physically stronger. Smiling at myself after a hard workout has taught me to recognize the aspects of my life that bring me joy.

If you don’t exercise in front of a mirror, I suggest taking a second to smile at yourself every morning when you are getting ready. It might seem silly, but it gives you a chance to reflect and be thankful. This leads me to my next point…

Smiling makes you feel happy. When I’m not having a great day, I consciously try to be a little nicer to others, in hopes that it may reflect back on me. Like karma, if you give smiles away, they usually come back to you.

Small acts of kindness, even things as small as a smile, can make all the difference in your own mood and others lives.

So, I’ll leave you with this, LoveLeighs – I hope you all know the worth of your smile and power of your happiness. It comes from within and when it’s there, it cannot be contained. Create your own joy and spread it to those around you, even when it seems hard to find.

 

Love, Leigh

RACKin’ Up the Deals

Nordstrom Rack is one of my very favorite stores to get a good deal on the brands I love. I recently downloaded the Rack app and have been finding the cutest pieces for 40-75% off.

I wanted to share some of my online shopping tips and favorite Rack items that I know you all will love.

First off, when shopping, make sure you filter by category and size. This lets you avoid shopping clothes or shoes that aren’t even available in your size. If you are looking for a specific color or brand, filtering is also helpful.

The other thing I like to do is sort the page by “best value” or “price lowest to highest”. This let’s you find the best deals and bang for your buck.

The Rack clearance section is constantly being updated so if you are looking for something specific, filter by “newest arrivals”.

What other stores do you like to shop for sales? Share your favorite finds with me on Instagram at @herloveleighlife!

Here are some of my favorite Nordstrom Rack items under $50:

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I LOVE these for a holiday party or with dark denim – $37.48
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This shirt is 71% off and comes in four colors!
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Leopard everything, please!
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This TOPSHOP pullover is under $20!
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I love the hem and detail on these – $26.40
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I got this Caslon sweater last week and it is so cute. Under $15!
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BAUBLEBAR earrings under $10!
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This mustard velvet skirt is the perfect length and under $30
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All about the ruffles this season!

My Favorite Cauliflower Crust Pizza Toppings

As promised in the Trader Joe’s Haul post, I am here to share with you a few of my favorite cauliflower pizza crust combinations.

I make a few of these a month and have found both a vegetarian and a meat lovers recipe that are simple, quick and delicious!

For those of you who have never made/bought a cauliflower pizza crust, the frozen one from Trader Joe’s is my favorite. It’s gluten free, crispy and half a pizza has less grams of carbs than a bagel!

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A standard bagel has about 50 grams of carbohydrates. This WHOLE pizza has 96. That’s pretty impressive. A medium Jet’s Pizza (my favorite) has 224 grams of carbs…Not to say that a Jet’s Pizza shouldn’t be enjoyed with a FULL bottle of ranch, but once a week? Maybe not.

The point is that this pizza crust is amazing and you can’t tell it’s made out of vegetables. Let’s get topping!

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Veggie Pizza

I cook the crust as instructed on the box and then top it with the Trader Joe’s Fat Free Pizza Sauce and lots (and lots) of shredded mozzarella.

Next I add about a cup of sliced mushrooms, some dollops of ricotta, a few fresh basil leaves and thinly sliced tomatoes. I also like to add some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

I broil it for about about five minutes and serve!

Meatball Pizza

Like the veggie pizza, I bake the crust as instructed, spread the sauce and cover in mozzarella.

For this one I add sliced tomatoes and basil (and sometimes bacon bits! NOM).

After I’ve broiled those toppings, I add my microwaved Trader Joe’s meatballs. You can find them in the freezer section. I don’t like to broil them because it makes them extra crispy, but to each his own.

I have tried a lot of combinations of toppings on this crust, but these two recipes are my very favorite.

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What do you add to your cauliflower crust?

I love to hear from you guys and I hope you all enjoy these as much as I do.

Love, Leigh

Snooze it & Lose it

I don’t run for elevators. I don’t run to catch planes. I don’t like to run late.

Your alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. and you immediately hit snooze. 8 minutes later the piercing sound of reality rings in your ear again and again and again… 

It’s a vicious cycle: hit snooze, doze off, wake up with the absolute minimum amount of time required to get out the door.

Now you’ve had no time to get coffee, forgot to put on the super cute necklace that matches your outfit and you feel rushed and flustered.

This used to be my daily routine. I was always rushing and feeling anxious about being late or forgetting something.

I realized that my problems were stemming from the way I started my day. The solution for these morning woes is something I like to call “getting vertical“.

Here’s how it works:

Pop out of bed the second your alarm goes off.

Don’t sit up and stare at your phone for a minute. Literally stand up. Get vertical the minute the alarm rings and don’t look back. Physically getting out of bed is the hardest part, so make like Nike and Just Do It.

After I’m vertical, I go into the kitchen and immediately drink at least eight ounces of water. Drinking water on an empty stomach helps reset your body and aids digestion. I never want to do this. I want to stick an IV of coffee straight into my arm, but having water truly does make me feel better throughout the day and wakes me up.

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After my water, I usually get ready to work out. Exercising in the morning keeps me energized all day long. It’s also nice to get home from work and know that I can spend time on other things.

If I’m not headed off to The Barre Code for a class (or once I’m back and showered), it’s time to get dressed for work.

My outfit is always planned out the night before, which is a tip I totally recommend. Laying your clothes out before bed saves you time in the morning and prevents the age old tale of trying on everything in your closet and trashing your room.

After I’m dressed, I grab my coffee, prepare my breakfast and allow myself 20 minutes to relax.

Sometimes I turn on Good Morning America, scroll through Instagram, or read a few chapters of whatever book I’m reading.

This might seem like a total waste of time, but giving myself some me-time in the morning allows me to relax and enjoy the day before I get crazy busy.

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Once I feel ready to get the day going I put on my makeup, do my hair and head off to work.

I know most of you are not morning people, but neither was I. There was a point where I had to be dragged out of bed, hated going to morning workout classes and didn’t even want to speak to another soul before sunrise.

If you are always running late, start by not hitting snooze. It helps me start every day in a good mood, which in turn allows me to feel more in control and less anxious about rushing out the door.

I truly believe that getting vertical as fast as you can and giving yourself a moment of relaxation in the morning sets you up for a successful day.

What other tips do you have for starting out your day right and being on time? Let me know in the comments!

We made it through another work week. Will you try to be a morning person next week? Have an amazing weekend, LoveLeighs!

Love, Leigh

Easiest Updo Ever!

I wear my hair in a high ponytail almost every day. I like having it out of my face, and I’ve found that wearing it up is the easiest way to keep it looking decent all day.

I stumbled upon a version of this quick updo on Pinterest and tweaked it to make it my own (and easy for people with long hair).

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Here’s how to get this look:

  1. Make a low ponytail with a part. Make sure you use an elastic the color of your hair!IMG_1095
  2. Loosen the pony a little and make a hole with your fingers just above the elasticIMG_1111
  3. Flip your hair under and through the top of the holeIMG_1085
  4. Braid your ponytail and secure with a skinny elasticIMG_1077
  5. Roll the braid toward the base of your headIMG_1042
  6. Secure with pins IMG_1059
  7. Pull at sides and front of hair for volume

This look is great for work and out for date night! It is so easy and fancier than your average pony or bun.

View the video tutorial here!

I hope you try it out! Please comment or DM me any beauty posts or tutorials you would like to see on the blog.

May your Monday be short and your coffee be strong!

Love, Leigh

Conceal & Feel Fierce

After my fall lip combinations post, I got a few requests for a concealer and foundation post. I decided it was easiest to do a full complexion post and share all my favorite face makeup products for everyday and glam occasions in one spot!

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When it comes to makeup, there are a thousand ways to wear it and even more products to decide between. I have a powder based routine for everyday wear and a more full coverage liquid base for long wear or special occasions.

For reference, I have very sensitive skin. I would say it’s fairly normal, not particularly dry or oily, but I do get some dry patches in the cold months.

Powder Foundation Routine

This is mostly personal preference, but when I use a powder, I like to apply concealer first and finish off with the powder to lock it in. When I use a liquid foundation, I apply it before I put on concealer.

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So, first off I use Benefit’s Boi-ing Industrial Strength Concealer in shade no. 01. This is my favorite product of all time. It covers pretty much any blemish out there and it stays on all day.

I like to use the It Smoothing Concealer brush (from this set) or my finger to apply it to any blemishes and red spots.

Next, I use Benefit’s Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer in shade no. 01 on my eyelids and under eyes. It’s a great eye shadow primer and prevents under eye creases. If putting moisturizer on before applying makeup makes your skin look greasy, this product is a great solution.

I finish off concealing with Benefit’s Boi-ing Brightening Concealer in shade no. 01. I apply it under my eyes to cover any dark circles, and on any other parts of my face I want to highlight (most often the bridge of my nose and my chin).

Once I am all concealed, I use the It Cosmetics Airbrush Complexion Perfection brush no. 115 to blend the It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation into my face and neck. I wear shade “light”.

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I am usually not a fan of powder foundations, but this one is great. It’s mid to full coverage and contains vitamins A, C and E, as well as collagen and aloe. It goes on silky smooth and doesn’t crack. I gave this powder a shot when it was on sale during Ulta’s 21 days of Beauty and will definitely repurchase it.

Liquid Foundation Routine

For special occasions or days when I know I will be out all night or in a lot of pictures, I opt for a liquid foundation to avoid having to reapply.

I start out by using the Urban Decay Optical Blurring brush to blend my Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup (in shade 02) to my entire face and neck.

Clinique’s Acne Solutions has been one of my favorite product lines since high school. I have continued to use it even now that I don’t have very acne-prone skin because of the silky texture and full coverage. This is a great liquid makeup for anyone with sensitive skin!

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After that is on I go through all the concealing steps I mentioned above. Quick recap:

  1. Boi-ing Industrial Strength Concealer on my blemishes.
  2. Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer on my eyelids and under eyes.
  3. Boi-ing Brightening Concealer under my eyes, on the bridge of my nose and my chin.

(Benefit, I’m waiting on that sponsorship any day now.)

If I know I will have makeup on for a long period of time, or I really want to make sure I look glam all night, I like to apply my Clinique Stay Matte Sheer Pressed Powder shade 02 (stay neutral) as a final step.

And that’s it, LoveLeighs. I know it sounds like a lot, but it takes less than three minutes and gives you a clean base for bronzer and blush.

If you’d like to see any specific beauty posts, videos, tutorials or product reviews, please let me know in the comments! I appreciate all of your feedback!

Love, Leigh

Going Bananas for Smoothies

If you thought my No-Bake Power Bites were easy, get ready for another quick and simple recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Behold the four ingredient smoothie I make at least once (sometimes twice) a day.

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Here are the ingredients you need:

  • 1 frozen banana (freeze peeled)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter (or PB2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (2-3 dashes)
  • 1 tablespoon of your choice of milk (I use lactose free 2%)

Directions:

  • Put all the ingredients in a NutriBullet or blender and blend until smooth
  • Add milk or ice for preferred consistency
  • Enjoy

The first reason I love this smoothie is that it’s even better as nice cream. That’s right, if you freeze it for an hour it transforms into a creamy ice cream-like substance. It’s a great way to cut down on sugar and I swear it tastes like a frozen cinnamon roll. Amazing.

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I have never been one for protein supplements. I would rather get my protein from whole foods than processed powders. If you are looking for a post-workout snack, your search is over!

The peanut butter supplies healthy fats, protein and fiber, and the banana is rich in potassium and magnesium. Lots of health benefits without the kidney and liver damage that often results from protein powder consumption.

If you don’t like peanut butter, I highly suggest using chocolate flavored PB2 as a substitute. You mix the powder with water for a creamy chocolate flavored spread (with less fat calories than peanut butter). I use a little less cinnamon with the PB2 to highlight the chocolate flavor.

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Easy, filling and delicious: the three requirements for a LoveLeigh approved recipe.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Please let me know what other kinds of recipes you’d like to see on the blog!

Love, Leigh

Finding Your Own Motivation

I spent Saturday with thousands of women striving to be the best versions of themselves, and it was inspiring to say the least. You already know my feelings on group fitness, but the Tone It Up Tour was another level of community.

For those of you who don’t know, Tone It Up is a website with daily workouts, healthy recipes, fitness challenges and nutrition plans run by trainers Karena and Katrina. They are currently touring the nation with Jillian Michaels and filming new fitness content for their website and app.

Hearing Jillian, Karena and Katrina speak to the group got me thinking about what motivates me and how I find that motivation within myself.

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For a long time, I came up with every excuse in the book to avoid doing the hard stuff. I don’t mean just workouts. I’m talking about assignments and chores I didn’t feel like doing, and even conversations with loved ones that I knew would be difficult to have.

Over a long period of trial and error, I have discovered some tools that help me to motivate from within.

Eat the frog

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain.

I had a professor my first year of college who used to always advise us to “eat the frog”. For me, that means doing my hardest task first. If I have a lot on my plate, I always start with the thing I want to do the least. That way, once it’s done, I feel inspired to tackle the rest of my projects because I know it will only get easier. It takes away the dark cloud looming over your head right off the bat.

Set small goals

Like I have mentioned before, I like to plan. As my fellow planners know, it’s easy to get carried away by planning too far into the future…Setting goals that you know you can achieve is a surefire way to work towards your bigger goals down the line.

These can be as small as drinking a certain amount of water a day or getting a set number of hours of sleep per night. Conditioning yourself to be goal-oriented sets you up for success in other aspects of your life.

Track your progress

This one is a little more specific to fitness.

There is no better competition than yourself. Most of the time I get myself to push harder in a workout by trying to top what I’ve done before. I think to myself “last week I did 10 push-ups and I’m stronger now than I was then”. Every rep and step counts. Adding even one more crunch makes a difference in the long run. Always get better. Even if it’s one step further than last week. Ever forward.

Jam out

Music has so much power over mood. I use music to motivate myself to do all sorts of things. When I don’t feel like writing, I turn on a new playlist and wait for inspiration to strike. When swiffering the floor and doing the dishes sounds dreadful, a little throwback Britney Spears is sure to get me off the couch and cleaning. To run faster, push harder and jump higher, I have to have the right song on.

One of the biggest ways I utilize music as a motivator is to turn it into a break. If something isn’t going my way, I go for a walk and listen to something I know will cheer me up. Using music to clear my head and reset my mood allows me to get back to what’s important instead of giving up.

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Reward yourself

If food-based incentives are the first thing that came to mind, you’re my kind of gal (or guy). I have bribed myself into doing a lot of stuff that seemed impossible by promising myself a donut once it’s done. Don’t be above self-bribery – it’s effective.

Reflect

Writing down my thoughts at the end of the day allows me to reflect on what I accomplished and how I can improve.

If you don’t like to write, take a moment to have a thankful thought at least once a day. Thinking about what you appreciate allows you to work towards doing more of what you love and eliminate the actions or things that don’t add value to your daily life.

Taking the time to think about my interactions and behaviors has forced me to become more present. It also lets me think about how I can actively work towards my goals and not just go through the motions.

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I hope you can apply some of these tips to your life. You can’t depend on others to motivate you, and there is nothing more satisfying than reaching a goal you set for yourself.

I would love to hear the other ways you motivate yourself in the gym, at work and at home. Happy Monday, LoveLeighs. Get out there and tackle this week!

Love, Leigh

Shake Your Booties

My ever-growing shoe collection reaches its prime in the fall. The flip flops I’ve been wearing for three months straight have been retired, and I’m ready to sport every shade of suede I can get my hands on.

Here are my five favorite shoes this season and a few ways I style them:

Metallic Mule

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This pair is under $20 by Catherine Malandrino from TJ Maxx. You can search for this pair on Poshmark, but these are pretty much identical and are still available online and in stores.

I have been living in these! The shiny metallic paired with a dark denim is super trendy, really comfortable and dresses up anything from a plain black tee to a chunky knit sweater.

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The silver compliments this gingham tank and forest green cardigan for a comfy chic look.

Short Suede Booties

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These Dolce Vita ankle booties are high quality and match just about everything. I usually wear them with my favorite pair of jeans from Loft (40% off right now!), but they also pair well with a casual dress and long cardigan.

The short heel makes them very comfortable and easy to walk in. The buckle detailing on the side and neutral color have established these shoes as a regular in my wardrobe.

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I snagged this poncho on sale from H&M last week and I can’t wait until it gets a little colder so I can wear it out over a long sleeve. The solid grey version is on sale right now for $12.99!

Peep Toe Booties

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These are my favorite pair of the five. The chunky heel, peep toe, v-cut sides and perforated suede make for the perfect (trendy) storm. I bought them in the late spring and wore them all summer long. I couldn’t find this exact pair from Steve Madden, but these are pretty similar.

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Now, they are a great transition piece from summer to fall. I like to pair them with floral embroidered jeans to feel like a rock star all day long.

Chunk Heel Peep Mules

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These are under $20 and surprisingly comfortable. They also come in a dark brown that are absolutely gorgeous.

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I love everything about this outfit. The heeled mules and detailed sleeves are a 2017 trend combination made in heaven.

Stylish Sneakers

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Major props to my boyfriend, Scott, for gifting me these adorable DV high top sneakers. I think I have worn them every day since I got them. They are perfect for running around town, pair well with leggings or denim, and are super affordable!

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I am also loving the knotted tee trend this season. I scored this one at Nordstrom Rack for $12!

I hope I gave you some fashion inspiration on this beautiful Friday. I can’t wait to shake my booty in some booties all weekend long.

Please let me know which pair or outfit was your favorite. I also want to hear what trends you’d like to see me write about or style!

You guys rock! Thank you for reading this post and for your support.

Love, Leigh